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Mt. Juliet chamber welcomes Opry director

Xavier Smith • Aug 16, 2017 at 2:35 PM

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce gained some insight into one of the area’s most iconic entertainment venues Wednesday as it welcomed Wayne Chandler, Grand Ole Opry sales director, for its monthly luncheon.

Chandler, who started with Gaylord Opryland right out of college, now has spent nearly two decades with the group, which included time at the former Opryland amusement park.

“Believe me, there’s nobody in this room that misses the park more than I do, but guys, it’s been 20 years – let it go. That’s all I’m saying. We hear it every day. I miss it every day, too,” Chandler said.

Chandler highlighted some of the best aspects of the Grand Ole Opry, which include Opry tours.

“One of the things we try to do is not just the history of the building and the history of country music, but also talk about auxiliary things that can be done within the business of music,” said Chandler, who noted occupations include sound and light technicians and more.

“We talk about this computerized lighting board and [younger people] start to push buttons and the lights go crazy, and they think, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ They’ll come up to you and tell you,” he said.

Chandler also discussed new and redesigned aspects of the Grand Ole Opry, including a change in artist demographics to appeal to young and old visitors by featuring superstars and newcomers.

“That’s what happened to Taylor Swift. She played the Opry seven times and people were like, “Who is this crazy girl?’ I’d like to have just a little bit of her money now. You’ll see people you probably have never heard of and probably just getting their record deals. You’ll also see some superstars who have already arrived,” he said.

Chandler also said the center took advantage of the 2010 flood that impacted the area.

“We decided whenever we were able to redo from the flood, as kind of our silver lining, that we would theme each dressing room differently and tell the story of people that come through those hallowed halls,” Chandler said of the venue’s 18 dressing rooms.

Chandler also discussed new ventures underway by Ryman Hospitality and Grand Ole Opry, including the future Ole Red Nashville venue set to open on Lower Broadway next spring.

The $20-million venue is a collaboration with country music star Blake Shelton. The four-story venue will feature a two-story bar, retail space, restaurant, private event space and more.

“Then, as everybody else in the downtown has now, a rooftop bar and restaurant. It will have a glass façade, so that half of it’s indoor and half of it is outdoors. That will make us different than everybody else downtown. That’s going to be a fun place to go,” Chandler said. “If you go downtown, from 10 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the morning, that music just envelops you. We’re going to be a part of that, so we’re really excited.”

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